Fishing activities have come to an abrupt halt In the lakeside community of Kisovve landing site, situated in Lujaabwa Village, Mazinga Sub County, Kalangala District, due to an overwhelming invasion of water hyacinth. This invasive aquatic plant has formed a dense carpet along the Lake Victoria shoreline, spanning approximately 300 meters, blocking boats from sailing and docking.
The environmental menace has brought more than just a hindrance to fishing; dangerous reptiles, including snakes, have accompanied the water hyacinth invasion, compelling residents near the docking area to abandon their homes out of fear. Yasin Kabugo, a local fisherman, expressed the community’s concern, stating, “We can’t sleep in our houses because we don’t know what could happen to us during the night.”
The Kisovve landing site, renowned for its significance as a key fishing ground for Nile Perch and Tilapia, has left the local fishermen in a precarious situation. Umar Tamale, a youth sub-county representative, voiced the community’s struggle, questioning how they would secure food since boats cannot navigate the affected area.
The rocky Lujaabwa Village, home to over 2,000 residents, is grappling with the repercussions of the water hyacinth invasion. Resty Nakawungu, the District Vice Chairperson, admitted the district’s limited capacity to uproot the weed and confirmed ongoing efforts to engage the government for assistance. Nakawungu mentioned the district’s endeavor to procure anti-venom drugs to manage potential snakebites.
Legislator Moses Kabuusu proposed a solution, advocating for the use of weevils known as Cyrtobagous Salviniae to control the water hyacinth. He emphasized the government’s allocation of funds for the development of these weevils, calling for their immediate deployment.
Tom Bukenya, the acting commissioner of Fisheries Resources in the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry & Fisheries, shed light on the ongoing efforts to combat water hyacinth in other regions. Bukenya mentioned the successful use of weevils in locations like Lambu landing site in Masaka, emphasizing their impact in reducing water hyacinth presence, albeit with a time-consuming process.
The water hyacinth, a notorious invasive species, has challenged government initiatives over the past two decades, including the Uganda–Egypt Aquatic Weed Control Project. Despite these efforts, the weed persists, posing a continuous threat to fishing communities.
As per the Kalangala District Hazard Risk and Vulnerability profile from 2016, compiled by the disaster management committee from the Office of the Prime Minister, the invasion of species like water hyacinth and green algae ranks fifth among the district’s ongoing disasters. The community awaits governmental intervention and effective strategies to alleviate the environmental and economic impact of the persistent water hyacinth invasion.